Thursday, April 18, 2013
Quick Takes Friday: ...Yes
You know when people say "God doesn't give you more than you can handle"?
I don't know about you, but they usually say this to me when I'm hanging on by the skin of my teeth and don't know if I can take much more. In fact, when I started working on this week's Quick Takes (a whole two weeks ago), I wasn't sure how much more I could handle.
A situation has come up at home that could possibly fall through, but given that I'm supposed to be hunting for a cheap travel arrangements (instead of what I'm really doing: listening to Crash Course: US History while typing a blog post) we're treating as if it's a given. Something that could be as simple as saying what it is and what I'm doing about it, but it's much more complex and beautiful than just that.
A stack of books sit on my bedside table...a bit of light reading that is anything but. At first glance, the books seem to vary in topic: Spiritual direction, dating, evangelizing, finding/following your passion, answering God's call in our life...our workplace, and living the Christian faith in a radical way. Swirling around in the stew of interesting tidbits was something I couldn't put my finger on until I happened to stop by the Catholic bookstore one day after confession: Stewardship. I coordinate things, acquire supplies, fill needs... as I use to say once upon a time, "I go where I'm needed".
I've taken stock of my gifts and talents too many times to name. The last time was a few years back when (as part of a class at the non-denominational church I use to attend) a group of us took a few days to really discuss what our gifts were. Each of us were given a packet of questions and when we came together on that last day, mine was covered in multi-hued notes. There were days when I wrote in pink and made notes on the things I use to do that seemed to come easy. There were notes in blue and purple that were a bit more analytical in nature...'clinical' may be a more appropriate word. And on the last two pages, in neon green that no one seemed to be able to read, were the things I feared sharing as I wasn't sure where these deep callings came from. Things like wanting to dig deeper in my faith and "find a place to really give my all", hints at my growing desire to become a Catholic, and a note written in small print... "I want to go where He needs me... I want to serve."
Others tell me I'm wasting my education, my time and my talent when I do things that are not intellectual or prestigious... things others have said are 'beneath me' (practical works such as nursing or housework), yet I feel wasted when I'm not giving some sort of practical help. In fact, when discussing the gravity of what we're about to step into, I had to try and explain that I feel utterly useless if I have no practical help to give.
Several years ago (can I say several? I think it's been about 7 years ago...) I came home from college where I had finished my Junior year in a major I didn't like. I felt this pull...this intense yank on my soul towards something. So that summer, I took a course, passed a test, started work as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and enrolled in any and all classes relating to nursing at my local community college. My grandmother ridiculed me, called me a failure (among other things) but by the year's end, my seemingly healthy Grandmother ended up in a wheelchair as a mysterious illness devastated her central nervous system. Her care came down to me and my newly acquired skills.
I've cared for her at her worst, when we would go to the hospital three times a week for doctor's appointments, emergency room visits, transfusions, and watching Grandma's form reduced to skin and bones.
I've cared for her when things improved, but her attitude about getting better was as horrible as her temper had been before she got sick.
I cared for her when her lifestyle improved, she reached a normal/healthy weight, and her quality of life was once again ...good.
Even though it was difficult beyond words... It was worth it to fight for her. To refuse to give up or abandon her. The value of these years is more than what can be stored in a bank.
Have you looked back at things in your life and had this moment of seeing how they connect in this wonderful narration?
One thing my spiritual director had me work on was a narrative of my life and there are a few points that keep jumping out. I don't want to go into detail (a training earlier this week made it clear that there were some points that weren't in my best interest that still effect me) but when I reread the events, it felt like I was groomed for something. Sister T put it into words: "To love heroically". I love the people who abandon me, the people who neglect me, abuse me, hurt me. I love when it doesn't make sense to love a person. I love because I'm too stubborn to give up, and most importantly, I continue to love because I cannot stop loving. This love is not from me, or about me, but about letting someone know that they are loved.
It was from love that I returned to the environment I was trying to escape, to a woman who had pushed and berated me so often that I thought about suicide... It was from love (God's, not mine) that I returned and cared for a woman I couldn't love just yet, but in allowing God to work in the situation, I found a sort of calling: to love.
This brings us back to the other week, as I tried so hard to put this all into words. (Even now, I'm not sure if this is making sense, but hopefully, it soon will)
Soon, in the next 2-5 weeks, we'll be expecting someone new in our household: Grandpa's mother.
I came home to the sound of Grandpa, chatting over the phone with his mother. She was recently moved (yet again) to another nursing facility. Lonely, agitated, she wanted to leave. As I sat my purse on the table, I caught my name and heard my qualifications listed. By the end of the chat, Grandpa had offered the spare room to his mom, and volunteered me to be her nurse in the afternoon.
A few days passed filled with misunderstandings, childish antics, callous remarks and what could only be described as a war over who would get their way... Usually, I cower when they lash out, but somehow I found the guts to do something brave.
It caught their attention. I told them I'd be honored to care for his mother, (within reason) and that I look forward to her arriving at the house.
And wouldn't you know it? Saying yes to this task that is huge, terrifying, and ultimately a privilege, has ended the arguments on the whole subject. As if a rubber band, stretched to it's limits, suddenly snaps back into shape...the three of us suddenly were on the same page about things and communicating like adults!
Saying yes and taking on the task of being a caregiver isn't new to me. I know that it means my social life (if it even existed before) would be limited, if not non-existent, and for the first month, I'll be exhausted as we get to know each other and adjust to the hard reality of new routines and new environments (not to mention, the time spent getting the house ready before she gets here).
But it feels right.
Between assignments from Sister T, my spiritual reading of late, and a few others nudges (thank you, Holy Spirit) it's like I know I'll be stepping into a divine appointment of my own; a mission to be an embodiment of love, compassion and mercy. It just clicks, that being single allows for such a wonderful gift to be given to these two women... that by remaining single, I can be used as an instrument of God in a way that I couldn't if I was married (I know me, and know that I couldn't divide my attention like that) or actively running toward a religious vocation (I wouldn't want to step into any new indefinite plans). I know I'll want to talk to Sister T about this, and maybe she can help me find the right words to say it... but this seems so right.
A few months back, I prayed a novena to St. Therese, asking for a sign of my vocation. A little girl walked up to me on the last day and gave me a rose. I was confused by the multi-colored bud, and by the unknown girl that wordlessly gave me this gift before disappearing again.
This past week, after I made the decision that I'd care for this woman if she decided to move in with us after all, another little girl wordlessly walked up to me, gave me a rosebud, and walked away. When I got home, I sat down the one person who opposed the idea, explained that I welcomed the opportunity to be a caregiver, and went about my day. That evening, I walked out back an noticed that the rose bush (whose blooms are sporadic and unimpressive) was covered in bright flowers. Never had I seen so many at one time!
I smiled, nodded my head, looked at the statue of Mary that stands across from the roses and whispered "...yes."
For more of this week's Quick Takes, head over to Camp Patton!